At last night’s third and final (thank God!) presidential debate, John McCain attempted to answer Barack Obama’s claims about McCain’s “Bushiness”, and turn the tide of the campaign back in his favor, with the retort: “Sen. Obama, I am not President Bush. If you wanted to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago.” Wonderful comeback; probably McCain’s best of the evening. Obama’s response… Well, there was no response because Bob Schieffer went to the next question. What Obama should have said, and what his campaign will no doubt begin to say in the coming days, is along the following lines.
In my post yesterday, I disclosed that McCain’s plan - abruptly announced during the second presidential debate - to buy up individual mortgages and renegotiate the principal balance of those mortgages to reflect current home values, was previously called for by Obama and was already part of the bailout legislation signed into law by George Bush. Well, I have a slight correction of sorts: as McCain revealed details of the plan yesterday, It became clear that McCain was trying to accomplish something different, and, in the spirit of McCain policy proposals, far worse, than current law.
At last night’s second presidential debate, John McCain made what will surely be regarded as his umpteenth Hail Mary throw. In response to a question from an audience member regarding ways the federal government can bail people out of “economic ruin,” McCain said this:
I would order the Secretary of the Treasury to immediately buy up the bad home loan mortgages in America and renegotiate at the new value of those homes – at the diminished value of those homes and let people be able to make those – be able to make those payments and stay in their homes.
Aside from the fact that McCain’s sudden epiphany is already part of the bailout package, McCain’s attempt, less than four weeks before the election, to transform himself from the champion of laissez faire economics to the great patron saint of government intervention into private markets may backfire.
My readers may notice that I have not devoted much space to coverage of Sarah Palin, John McCain’s spectacled salute to Dan Quayle, on my blog. The reason: after her introduction to the U.S. as a lying, venom-spewing “pit bull” during her speech at the Republican National Convention, I largely regarded her as a waste of space on a blog devoted to issues of substance. My boycott, if you will, survived her bumbling interviews with Charles Gibson and Katie Couric (although I gave those interviews brief mention in other articles) and lasted through the VP debate.
I. We Are in the Midst of an Economic Crisis
To say that we are experiencing an economic crisis is probably becoming an understatement. Explaining how the crisis unfolded is like watching a “domino effect” in reverse. Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 777.68 points, the biggest single-day drop in its history. The market fell on news of Congress’ failure to pass a $700 billion bailout package that, according to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, would save crumbling financial institutions and prevent a credit crunch that may send the global economy into a tailspin.
Tonight’s presidential debate was McCain’s to lose, and for a while it looked as though he might not even show up. As the key topic was foreign policy, many commentators felt that Obama needed merely to demonstrate that he could hold his ground against an elder statesman. As the debate unfolded, it became clear that McCain did not “lose”. Indeed, he appeared to have a greater command of the room when the subject switched to foreign policy. McCain did, however, appear very much out of his element, and indeed nervous, during the discussion of the economy and the banking industry bailout.
What was at 1 p.m. yesterday a “fundamental agreement on a set of principles” became, by yesterday evening, a bloodbath of partisan politics, which once again took precedence over the interests of the American people. And at the center of all this mess was the heroic savior of the economy, America’s patron saint who beneficently champions the cause of “country first” – John McCain.
Whether or not you agreed with the bailout plan, you have to ask yourself – since we are in the middle of a (allegedly suspended) presidential campaign where one candidate valiantly stated that he’d put securing a swift resolution of the sudden economic crisis ahead of getting elected – why the “fundamental agreement” fell apart.
This week marked the demise of Lehman Brothers Holdings and Merrill Lynch (as a separate entity), formerly among the biggest financial institutions in the U.S. A.I.G., the nation’s largest insurer, which insures inter-bank loans, had to be bailed out by the Fed to the tune of $85 billion. Had A.I.G. went under, the resulting bankruptcy domino effect among other banks would have been staggering. It is becoming increasingly clear that we are on the brink of a widespread economic collapse.
Nevertheless, John McCain, who earlier admitted that he doesn’t really understand economics, continues to think that the fundamentals of the economy are strong.
Sarah Palin said a lot of interesting things during her interview with Charles Gibson last week, not the least of which were her extraordinary fumble on Gibson’s question regarding the Bush Doctrine and her inability – after three tries – to be able to enunciate one way in which McCain/Palin would change Bush’s economic policies. But America should pay very close attention to her vision of U.S. foreign policy toward Russia under a McCain Administration.
I earlier discussed how John McCain’s vision of good and evil would lead this country down the path of increased military entanglements and decreased safety.
John McCain gave a pretty lifeless acceptance speech last night, at times sounding more like a presenter at an awards show than like someone running for President. After listening to McCain’s speech, it was clear that the convention belonged to Sarah Palin. This is not to say that McCain’s speech was bereft of moments. McCain particularly shined and showed his wit when he attempted to quiet overly zealous protestors (how they got into the main chamber is beyond me) by saying “Please don’t be diverted by the ground noise and the static.”
But those bored by the ho-hum, ill-paced nature of McCain’s speech may have missed perhaps the most frightening indication of what a McCain presidency would mean for the American people.